First edition | poetry

First Edition features new original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.


Marilyn Blowing the Shofar

by judith goldhaber

“‘Like blowing razzberries’ is how you shape your lips

and teeth and tongue to make the shofar wail,”

she’d read somewhere, so, eager not to fail,

she frowns with concentration as she grips

the horn so tightly that her fingertips

turn white — a resolute female

declaring with one long-drawn-out exhale

her firm intent to throw away the scripts

written for ladies of a certain age.

The shofar’s cry of joy and pain and rage

rings through the temple, while her shining face,

pink with exertion, redolent of grace,

suggests we might transcend the spoken word

an and simply howl in order to be heard.

Feeding the Birds on Yom Kippur

 Fasting, they say, isn’t a punishment

or even a holiday from daily sin,

but urgent and delicious nourishment

for faithful angels that exist within

each one of us — angels that were sent

to be our friends, yet through the year grow thin

and weak from hunger, gagging on the scent

of our strange meals of gristle, bone, and skin.

So when the banquet table is prepared

they crowd around it, chattering, and feast

as greedily as birds upon the crumbs

of faith and hope and love that we have shared

with them, for angels, just like men and beasts,

could starve to death before their kingdom comes.

Judith Goldhaber of Berkeley wrote her first sonnet at 13, and has written more than 300 to date, in addition to poetry in other lyrical forms. She has won numerous poetry awards, including the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for poems on the Jewish experience, and has published two books of poetry, “Sonnets from Aesop” and “Sarah Laughed: Sonnets from Genesis.”


Works may be submitted to fiction editor Ilana DeBare at or poetry editor Joan Gelfand at Fiction excerpts may run up to 2,500 words, but only 800 words will appear in the print edition, with the rest appearing online. All prose and poetry published to date can be viewed at